Friday, December 24, 2010

Who is Najib kidding with minimal impact price hikes?

When one is earning RM3,000 a month, with no extra mouths to feed and cloth, single and live at home with parents with no housing and car loans to cover, a 20 sen increase in your favourite 'teh tarik' or Milo is quite insignificant.

Now substitute this with a 'real life scenario' of 'married with kids' to feed and cloth, insurance, car, housing and credit card loans to cover, you'll feel the pinch.

This is the type of scenario that DAP is spewing about.

The average household income in Malaysia in 2007 was slightly over RM3,500 a month. The take-home pay after mandatory deductions in such a scenario would in all probability be about RM3,100.

Now minus a car, housing and creditcard loan, this individual is poor by urban standards and a 55% hike in a consumer item will definetly hurt the household budget!

Which incidently is exactly what has happened since January 2010, according to DAP's national publicity chief Tony Pua.

The cost of white sugar, which is a core consumer item on every household list, has gone up 55%.

In July, the government launched a surprise “5-in-1” price hike programme, raising the prices of RON95 and RON97 petrol, diesel, white sugar and liquified petroluem gas (LPG) including cooking gas cyclinders as much as 15.2%.

"Then on Dec 3, 2010, less than 5 months later, they had another series of hikes.

"This time the price of RON95 went up five sen to RM1.90 per litre, diesel by five sen per litre to RM1.80 and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by five sen to RM1.90 per kg. Sugar was now RM2.10 per kg.

"In fact for white sugar, inclusive of a 20 sen hike in January on top of the 25 sen and 20 sen hike in July and December, prices have increased by more than 55% this year alone," said Pua.

Failed maths

He said the Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Coffee Shop Association's recent announcement debunked Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's claim in July that the price increases will have “minimal impact” on households in Malaysia.

The association had announced a proposed 20 sen increase in beverage prices.

"In July, Pemandu said the new teh tarik price, having taken into impact the subsidy reduction of fuel and upward price adjustment would be around RM1.0155. They advertised this in full page advertisements across all major mainstream newspapers.

"But in reality the 'teh tarik' and 'kopi susu' price was RM1.20. Now with the 20 cent increase these beverages will go up even higher," he said.

According to Pua something is seriously wrong with the method used in calculating matters involving our economy and our leadership's understanding of simple arithmetics.

"Someone in Pemandu has failed their mathematics. Firstly, there is a clear contradiction in “teh tarik” prices between the fact sheet issued in July which was only RM1.00 as compared to the new base price of RM1.20 in the December fact sheet.

"The government must explain the “mysterious” 20% increase in the base price between July and December, " he said.

He also accused Barisan Nasional and Pemandu of "living in a parallel imaginary universe" of price hikes involving increases of 1.55 sen or even 1 sen.

"I had issued a statement in July arguing that Pemandu should be “commended” for the audacity to publish such numbers which are at best applicable only in a fictitious and theoretical universe, and at worse, showing the complete lack of understanding of real world market dynamics on the price of goods and services.

"And to prove my point, it was reported yesterday in all major Chinese newspapers that the Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Coffee Shop Association has announced the proposal to increase all beverage prices by 20 sen starting Jan 1, 2011.

"Kopi susu and the milk prices will be increased from RM1.20 to RM1.40 translating to a massive 16.7% increase in prices!" said Pua.

Stop spewing hypothetics

He said even the price of everyone's coffeeshop favourite “herbal tea” will be increased from RM1.10 to RM1.30 which is an 18% price hike.

"And Pemandu has the audacity to claim that “herbal tea” prices will only increase from RM1.00 to RM1.012 or just a 1.2% increase

"In fact, out of the 70 everyday food and drink items listed on the Subsidy Rationalisation fact sheet, no item is expected to increase by more than 1.9% after the most recent round of price hikes!

"What is perhaps most embarrassing is for the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Deputy Minister Tan Lian Hoe to argue that a 10 sen increase in beverage prices “will be more reasonable”.

"A 10 sen increase will still result in a 8.3% increase for the price of “teh tarik” and “kopi susu”, 10 times higher than the 0.83% increase claimed by Pemandu.

"The government should stop spewing these ridiculous and out-of-these-world hypothetical data which demonstrate at best its sheer incompetence and irrelevance," Pua said - FMT.

Kit Siang: Muhyiddin's statement over 1Malaysia logo ban 'ridiculous'

DAP national advisor Lim Kit Siang said Friday it was "downright ridiculous" for Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to assert that the Selangor state government's move to ban the 1Malaysia logo was due to its fear over the concept.

The Ipoh Timur MP also urged the Selangor state executive council to review its decision to ban the 1Malaysia logo from advertisement billboards, in order to prove that Muhyiddin was wrong in his claims that the Opposition is afraid of the concept created by Najib's administration.

It was reported Wednesday that the Selangor state government has banned advertisements on billboards that feature the 1Malaysia logo, which it claimed was a Barisan Nasional (BN) political symbol and therefore, contravenes local by-laws using political symbols in billboard advertisements.

Muhyiddin had responded to the 1Malaysia logo ban which was made known by Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu, saying that: "“They (Selangor government) are afraid of the 1Malaysia logo which has become iconic to the people. The 1Malaysia vision has noble intentions, one of which is to unite the people regardless of their political leanings.”

However, Lim said in his statement Friday that: "Muhyiddin’s statement is downright ridiculous as he himself has declared that he does not fully endorse the 1Malaysia concept, whose official objective is the creation of a Malaysian nation where every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first and race, religion, geography and socio-economic grouping second."

He pointed out that in March this year, Muhyiddin had declared himself "Malay first and Malaysian second" when Lim challenged all Ministers in Parliament to demonstrate their commitment to the 1Malaysia concept by identifying themselves as Malaysian first and race, religion or region second.

Lim also cited other examples which he claimed Muhyiddin had spoken totally inimical to the 1Malaysia concept, including the DPM's defensive stance over the National Civic Bureau (BTN) which has been criticized for being racist.

Lim also said: "His (Muhyiddin's) attempt to mitigate the Nasir Safar outrage claiming that it could have been 'a slip of the tongue' when Najib’s senior political aide labelled Indians and Chinese in Malaysia as 'pendatang', alleging that the Chinese came as beggars and the Chinese women as 'prostitutes.'"

"His (Muhyiddin) hamfisted attempt to aid and abet the inflammatory and incendiary campaign by Umno-controlled media like Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, government television and radio stations, playing the race and religious cards to viciously and falsely paint Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Pakatan Rakyat Penang State Government as “anti-Malay” and “anti-Islam,” he added.

"This is why Muhyiddin’s claim that Pakatan Rakyat is “running scared” of the 1Malaysia concept is so ridiculous, when the concept does not even get his full support," Lim said.

Saying that the number of "reckless rhetoric of racist extremism and religious bigotry which attack the very basis of the 1Malaysia slogan" has increased recently, Lim said the concept itself was an example of Najib's administration failure to "walk the talk".

"The 1Malaysia slogan is in fact the best example of the wide and increasing gulf between words and deeds of the Najib administration – its utter failure to walk the talk of the Najib signature policies whether 1Malaysia, Government Transformation Programme, New Economic Model or Economic Transformation Programme," the DAP veteran said - MM.

'Instant reforms' pledge riles up BN leaders

Pakatan Rakyat’s pledge for instant reforms in the event it comes to power at the Federal level has generated a litany of responses from Barisan Nasional leaders, most of whom dismissed the list of reforms as unrealistic.

Both prime minister Najib Razak and his deputy Muhiyiddin Yassin had come out separately with statements deriding the pledge which was outlined during PR's convention last Sunday.

Najib was quoted as saying that PR’s statements were unrealistic and made without any consideration of their ability to govern.

Muhyiddin on the other hand suggested a PR-led government would squander the nation's wealth.

“Pakatan can promise the sun, moon, stars and mountains... But that is not the way of the BN government. We cannot squander our nation's wealth.

“For BN, the prime minister has already a long road map for a high-income nation. But Pakatan only has plans for their first 100 days. They have absolutely no plans to reform the economy or anything," said Muhyiddin.

The remarks about 'wastage' surprised PAS information chief Idris Ahmad (left).

“It is ironic that UMNO-BN leaders accuse us of squandering wealth,” he told in a statement to Harakahdaily, and referred to the controversial multi-billion project announced by Najib during the last budget for a 100-storey tower.

Idris added the comments from BN leaders "smacked of hypocrisy" in view of their past actions, saying they considered projects beneficial to people as wastage.

“All the projects which are beneficial to the people are considered wastage like the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state government's policy of giving 20 cubic metresof free water to the people.

"When Najib Tun Razak wants to build the 100 storey Menara Warisan tower, it is not considered wasteful. For the children and cronies, it is not a waste,” said Idris.

Ten instant reforms

Idris also took to task deputy Education minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi for saying that the instant reforms promise was "a political drama" to cover up PR's failure.

"Did not BN leaders promised the people on November 3, 2010 that there would be no more increase in oil price, at least until year end, but on December 3, the price of RON95 went up by 5 sen?” he asked.

He said in contrast, PR states, in spite of their financial limitation, were trying to fulfill their manifesto.

Last weekend, Pakatan Rakyat parties dished out what is known as instant reforms which would be implemented in the first 100 days after winning the general election.

They include:
1. Restructure of institutions including the Elections Commission (EC), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Royal Malaysian Police.
2. Repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA)
3. Take over of tolled highway so that tolls can be abolished
4. Restructure of the country’s subsidies, including transferring gas subsidies to private power producers to the public at large
5. Revamp the salary scale of civil servants and increasing teachers' salary by RM500 a month
6. Transferring private water concessions to the government
7. Free wireless Internet access to those in urban and semi-urban areas
8. Cancelling Felda plantations and opening up its farms to second- and third generation Felda settlers
9. Increasing oil royalty payments to Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Kelantan from 5 percent to 20 per cent, and
10. Formation of a Royal Commission to solve the problem of illegal immigrants and citizenship issues in Sabah and Sarawak.


PKR likely unscathed in polls turmoil, survey shows

By Yow Hong Chieh

The media spotlight on PKR’s fractious party election appears to have had little effect on public opinion, according to the latest poll of voters in peninsular Malaysia.
The results of the poll suggests that Malaysians are undecided if media reports accurately reflected the party’s woes.

Thirty-four per cent of those surveyed by the independent Merdeka Center earlier this month believed unfavourable reports were a true reflection of the opposition party’s troubles.

But another 34 per cent of voters surveyed said the reports were exaggerated. The remaining 32 per cent said they were not sure.

Malays were the most evenly split, with 37 per cent believing the reports accurate compared to 36 per cent who said news of PKR’s “internal conflicts” had been played up.

Indians were more likely to believe the reports overemphasised the party’s problems.

Fourty-six per cent of the Indians surveyed said the reports were exaggerations versus 32 per cent who thought otherwise.

In contrast, the Chinese were the least likely to believe stories of PKR’s woes were being sensationalised.

Only 26 per cent said they thought the stories overblown, while 31 per cent said the stories were accurate.

The Chinese, however, were also the most ambivalent, with 43 per cent unsure if the reports were truthful or not.

The poll was conducted in the first two weeks of this month following PKR’s first ever direct election, which was marred by low voter turnout, allegations of fraud and the acrimonious exit of then-Federal Territories PKR chief Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

Deputy presidential contender Zaid quit PKR claiming the party had failed to uphold democratic principles.

This month’s poll mirrors the results of a mid-term survey on Pakatan Rakyat (PR) performance in Selangor, where PKR controls nine out of 22 parliamentary seats, the most of any party.

The mid-term survey suggested that PR will be able to defend Selangor in the next general election.

The PR government there scored the highest with the Indian community, followed by Malays and then the Chinese.

Selangor Mentri Besar and former Selangor PKR chief Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, however, scored the lowest among Malays, with 38 per cent saying they were not confident in his leadership, compared to 14 and 17 per cent of the Chinese and Indians, respectively.

Most Malaysians against 100-storey project

By Leslie Lau

The majority of voters in peninsular Malaysia are against the proposed construction of the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka project, a recent survey by the independent Merdeka Center has revealed.
The survey, conducted between November 30 and December 11, found that 65 per cent of those polled disagreed with the construction of what would be the tallest building in the country.

Opposition to the project was uniform across all three major communities.

Sixty per cent of Malay voters polled disagreed with the project while 76 per cent of Chinese opposed its construction. Among Indians, 58 per cent were against it.

The findings suggest that a recent online protest on the Facebook social networking site was a fair reflection of public opposition to the project.

More than 200,000 Malaysians registered their protest on Facebook in a campaign launched soon after the project was announced a few months ago.

Last month, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned of a property glut that would result from the construction of the proposed tower.

Dr Mahathir had said that the government should consult the public before proceeding with the project, announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when tabling Budget 2011.

Government investment arm Pemodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) had defended the RM5 billion project, saying that it would neither involve public nor depositor funds.

PNB has formed PNB Merdeka Ventures as a wholly-owned unit to undertake the RM5 billion skyscraper project on the land it bought from Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Berhad in 2000.

PNB paid RM310 million or RM220 per sq ft to buy the land, but the market value of the land has since appreciated to RM800 per sq ft today.

The land was initially given to UEM Berhad in exchange for the infrastructure giant building the National Stadium complex in Bukit Jalil for the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have also derided the grandiose skyscraper project as wasteful and accused Datuk Seri Najib Razak of trying to “out-Mahathir” Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir had embarked on a massive development spree after he took power in 1981 by building highways, the Penang Bridge, opening new industrial estates and oversaw the construction of the Petronas Twin Towers, the KL International Airport, the Sepang International Circuit, intra-city train lines, several ports, and the new administrative capital Putrajaya and its neighbouring Cyberjaya, which was central to the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project.

Najib appeared to distance himself from the controversial tower when he made it known that the project did not originate from him but PNB.

He nevertheless defended it, saying that it would have a “multiplier effect” on the economy and help drive it forward, in addition to providing an attractive commercial centre for Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera businesses alike.

In his 2011 Budget speech, Najib said the rationale for the Warisan Merdeka tower was similar to that of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, in that it would serve as a symbol of a modern and developed Malaysia.

The 19-acre development area of the mega project — which includes a condominium and a shopping mall — is sited on the car park and land adjacent to Stadium Negara and Stadium Merdeka.